To our shame, we have participated in wielding God’s good gift of sex as an instrument for evil. We have gone on and on presenting our bodies to sin as instruments of unrighteousness. We have been the man bringing this most treasured and sacred gift of his own sexuality to throne room of sin for whatever unrighteous purposes it has in mind.
Christ has come offering Himself on our behalf. Unstained by sin and unrighteousness, Christ steps between us and sin, taking the full brunt of its death (Isaiah 53), and giving us His life so that we might once again present our members to God as instruments of righteousness . He has rescued us from sin’s kingdom and brought us to His own good Kingdom (Colossians 1:13). He has adopted us as His sons (Romans 8:15) and given us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). And He now invites us to join in the great Rescue.
The battle rages. And yet, our bodies are only beginning to become familiar with walking in righteousness. Clumsy and confounded in the flow of His purity, we long to be fluent in the language of our new heart.
Christ is faithful to teach us.
Experts in the area of language learning know that the most effective way to learn to speak a new language is to immerse yourself in the language—to go to a country that has as its primary language the language you are trying to learn. To emulate this, many foreign language teachers here in the United States only permit their students to speak the new language in their classes, even for first year students. This can be painful for students. They know what they want to say and they know how to say it in their native tongue, but are limited in the new language.
To become fluent in a new language, then, means being willing to be limited, accomplish less, and even to sound (and perhaps seem to others) less intelligent than the student actually is for a time. In this process, the temptation comes to abandon the task, to revert back to the default mode and speak the more familiar, native language used for so long by the student. This is the natural thing to want to do. The temptation says, “I’ll work on fluency later; right now, I need to be satisfied!”
This is similar at times to our predicament in learning to walk as new creatures with new hearts. God has washed us of our sexual sins but they remain familiar, and seem natural, to us. We didn’t become accustomed to our particular set of sins overnight and we won’t typically find sinful habits and desires changed overnight. Goodness, love, purity, light, and things like these are the language of the family into which we’ve been adopted. We long to become fluent, to speak this new language as our Rescuer, Jesus, does. And He is teaching us, conversing with us all the time, and filling us with His capacity for this language. It is that for which we were made and redeemed. And yet, the old language, though filthy and degrading to us as persons, seems to slip from our mouths without warning. The long-lived habits of the flesh cry out for satisfaction, now!
Spiritual disciplines and practical exercises are invaluable to us here. Much like language lessons—vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, conversation, and customs—all seem awkward, slow, and forced at first. But overtime, as we become practiced, they become more natural, and we become more free. Likewise, as we practice spiritual disciplines like confession, silence and solitude, prayer, meditation, Scripture study, gratitude, and simplicity (to name only a few), our minds and bodies now so accustomed to the ways of sin, over time become more familiar and adept at the ways of the Kingdom to which we are saved.
I’d love to hear from you: What do you do (or not do) to learn the new language of the kingdom of Christ?
Excellent! One of your best, in my view. The context, content, and power of the metaphor is outstanding. Keep up the good work!
Thanks for the thoughts. I needed to hear that. Been to many ups and downs over the years. I need to be immersed in the language.
One of the reasons I read the Bible through again and again is to immerse myself in the language. Transformation is a slow process. Glad to be reminded of Jesus’ constancy and faithfulness. Our God IS awesome!